As our population ages, there is one thing we can be sure of: at some point we will know a caregiver, be a caregiver or need a caregiver.
Today there are more people over 65 than there are teenagers, and a higher number of people over 85 than children under 5.
The statistics indicate that 10,000 baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) are turning 65 every day until the year 2025.
In 1990, there were 11 potential caregivers for each person needing care. It is estimated that by 2050, the ratio will be 4 to 1.
It’s no secret that we are becoming an older nation, but we are not alone. Many nations are experiencing the same thing.
So who will be the caregivers? Family? Friends? Those involved with seniors and their desire to age in place have been planning for this for many years.
There are organizations that are based in neighborhoods where volunteers assist others with such tasks as transportation, shopping or calling to check on one another on a regular basis. Many churches do the same thing.
Community leaders are planning “livable” communities where services, i.e. grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, churches, schools, etc., are within walking distance.
There are also care managers and agencies with trained professional caregivers who can help.
Many people don’t want to acknowledge that loved ones are changing. They ignore the signs that someone may need assistance. Because of this denial, many become “unexpected” caregivers.
It’s not something they planned for or were trained to do. Some may feel strongly that caregiving is a duty, a burden.
When caring for a loved one, the caregiver might be filled with guilt; i.e. not doing enough, not spending enough time, not having all the answers, feeling resentment toward the person because of fatigue or other family dynamics.
The role of caring for another can be so overwhelming that some caregivers might isolate themselves. Asking for help is not easy for most people.
So where do you begin?
Knowing community resources is a good place to begin, but it doesn’t meet all the needs the caregiver has right now.
What can make the most significant difference are peer-to-peer caregiver support groups. When admitting that you don’t have all the answers, you might be ready to seek out a group.
There, primary caregivers can share their emotional and physical challenges with others who have already experienced similar challenges.
From their experiences other caregivers can empathize and provide comfort by sharing caregiving tips and valuable insights.
You’ll find you are not alone in your struggles.
There are many such groups in the Lowcountry. All you have to do is move outside your comfort zone and reach out to them.
Becoming involved in one might help you become a less stressed-out caregiver.
Rachel Carson, Certified Senior Advisor, is the owner of Home Instead Senior Care serving the Lowcountry since 1997.